"Toilet plants" to be spotted on the river banks in Leuven

You can see so-called "toilet plants" growing on river edges across Flanders, including at the river Dijle in Leuven. The plants grow from seeds that were flushed through the toilet - hence their name - and found a new life in the mud of the river beds, or in cracks in walls along the river. 

This has somewhat surprising consequences, since you can spot tomato, pumpkin, kiwi and even fig plants or trees at places where you would not expect this. "We know that the seeds of tomato or golden berry plants can survive a passage through our gastro-intestinal system", Thomas Gyselinck of Leuven university (KU Leuven) told our colleagues of the regional radio station Radio 2. "So if somebody goes to the toilet, these seeds can eventually find their way to the river edges." 

The news means that sewage water is still finding its way to our rivers. "Normally this doesn't happen, but it's possible in the case of very strong rains, when sewage systems can't cope."  

"The climate in our cities, which is a little bit warmer than in the countryside, can also boost their chances. In the Great Beguinage, we see kiwi plants and sometimes even pumpkin. There is a gigantic fig tree in the Sluispark." 

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